More than 3600 Nursery aged children set to benefit from Healthy Food Initiative in Medway


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News from the Children’s Food Trust

A programme providing food and nutrition support to nurseries and child minders will benefit more than 3,600 children, after figures show nearly one in four of Medway’s youngsters are overweight or obese by the time they reach reception year at school.

The Children’s Food Trust are working alongside Medway Council to improve the health of under fives. Over two years, they will support private, voluntary and independent early years settings and child minders to provide healthier meals and improve understanding of health and nutrition.

The Trust has been commissioned by Medway Council’s Health Improvement Service and Early Years Quality Team to develop new nutritional guidelines for local nurseries, children’s centres and child minders, after helping more than 11,000 people to eat more healthily with similar initiatives across the country, and now they’re calling on childcare workers in Medway to get involved.

Medway Director of Public Health, Dr Alison Barnett, said: “We know a healthy diet in a child’s early years positively influences their growth, development and achievement, so the new guidelines are extremely important.

“One in five children in Medway is overweight or obese by the time they reach their reception year at school, so it’s clear that supporting healthy eating can never begin too early.

“The new guidelines are an invaluable, evidence-based resource that provides practical advice which will help our children maintain a healthy weight, develop healthy eating habits and reduce their risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer in later life.”

Since January 2012, the Children’s Food Trust’s Eat Better Start Better programme has worked with more than 1,000 health and childcare professionals to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to provide healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink in their settings.

Head of Nutrition at the Children’s Food Trust, Dr Patricia Mucavele, said: “With the increasing evidence showing the importance of early intervention in protecting children’s health we all have a duty of care to act now and start teaching our children and their families about the importance of nutrition early.

“Nurseries and child minders provide the perfect environment to encourage children to establish healthy eating habits from a very early age. The programme of training and practical resources being delivered will help childcare providers make a positive difference to the health of Medway’s young people. We would encourage parents with children in early years settings, such as nurseries to look out for the Early Years Code of Practice for Food and Drink which settings will display to demonstrate they are meeting national best practice.”

Local early years practitioners will also attend practical food and nutrition courses in Medway.

Laura Sharp, Project Manager and Nutritionist at the Children’s Food Trust, said: “I’m really excited to be able to work with more than 150 early years practitioners across Medway to provide a comprehensive programme of training, resources and telephone support on food and nutrition. We will provide advice on how to implement the nutritional guidelines in their settings and practical tools to self-evaluate. Practitioners will also learn how to signpost families onto other local services such as breastfeeding networks and weight management services.”

Childcare providers should contact Medway Early Years Team on 01634 338617 to sign up.

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